After decades as a mainstay in Teen Titans as well as joining the Justice League, Cyborg finally has his own solo series. By writer David F. Walker and artist Ivan Reis, Cyborg #1 sees Victor contemplating his place in the world, both on a larger scale, as well as a more intimate one.
Cyborg #1 opens in another galaxy, as two forces, the armored Tekbreakers and the more robotic Technosapiens engage in a battle. It becomes clear by their dialogue that these two forces are diametrically opposed, and are perfectly willing to exterminate each other in order to attain victory. After this prologue, the issue transitions to the more familiar S.T.A.R. Labs where a crowd of handicapped individuals has amassed, looking for answers. Watching the crowd from inside the building is Silas Stone, joined by his assistants. Silas laments the fact that he cannot identify the desire of the protesters before his assistant, Thomas, reminds him of his meeting with his son, Victor.
Victor is discussing the recent developments of his life with Sarah Charles when his father greets him. The strained relationship between Victor and Silas serves as the dramatic crux of the issue. Victor constantly navigates around his father’s coldness, and it reflects in his own mindset as he questions what his own desires are. While Cyborg subtly challenges his father’s constant distance, Sarah takes a more direct approach and chastises Silas and his team for treating Victor like he’s a lab experiment. Cyborg doesn’t quite know what to do. He appreciates Sarah standing up for him, but doesn’t want to bring further conflict into his relationship with his father. And as Cyborg contemplates his place in his world, the war between the Tekbreakers and Technosapiens takes a turn that certainly does not bode well for Earth.
The artwork by penciller Ivan Reis and inker Joe Prado is gorgeous. Reis has always had a knack for intricate details and when dealing with Cyborg’s new operating system, the designs are wickedly rendered. This version of Cyborg feels lifelike and functional, even if its technology is well beyond what exists in the real world. When looking at it, one gets the sense that there are schematics to each of the moving pieces. Prado’s inking also does a great job bring out the best in Reis’ details, especially in the facial work, where the heavier lines emphasize Victor’s changes in expression. This is most evident in the scenes where Vic interacts with Sarah Charles. When Vic offers a smile in appreciation of Sarah defending him, there’s a real warmth to him. This is also due to the brilliant color art by Adriano Lucas, who is able to get expression out of even Vic’s cybernetic eye. Lucas does a great job with both the high-tech environments and the quieter more human moments, striking a good balance in his palette that keeps the book’s tone throughout.
In bringing to fruition Cyborg’s first solo series, David F. Walker had a monumental task in bringing together the different iterations of Victor together in order to make a cohesive character for the solo series. Walker provides a great voice for Victor, bringing back some of the more relaxed personality traits that had been missing in recent appearances. There’s also a theme of balance and duality that permeates throughout issue. From the war between Tekbreakers and Technosapiens, to Victor’s feelings about his father and even himself, there’s a constant focus on the balance between two extremes. It’s a nice theme to establish for a young man who, in contrast to other superheroes, doesn’t have an alter-ego. Vic is Cyborg all the time. It’s not something he can turn off or put up in a closet until he wants it.
While Cyborg #1 has a lot going for it, it’s not without its flaws. The primary hindrance is the abundance of captions. Writer David F. Walker has a fantastic grasp of Cyborg’s voice, perfectly capturing his more laid back attitude, while also demonstrating his own struggle with identity. But sometimes that internal monologue doesn’t punch strongly enough to justify its placement. When commenting on his father behaving as if he’s invisible, Cyborg’s caption reads, “Even as a kid, it pissed me off.” On its own, there’s no real issue, but readers can already see that Cyborg is upset at his treatment, so the caption comes across as redundant. Overall though, the captions provide a good insight into Victor’s mind, so when they don’t quite land it makes them more noticeable.
While the art is strong throughout, the design for the alien forces isn’t the most eye-catching. In particular, the bodies of the Technosapiens feel a little too derivative of H.R. Giger’s work on the Alien franchise. The Tekbreakers fare a bit better, and their resemblance to Cyborg’s own enhancements may hint at a connection between the two.
With Cyborg #1, Victor Stone finally gets his place in the sun. David F. Walker and Ivan Reis have crafted a solid debut for the Teen Titan and Justice League member. Not everything is perfect, some of Walker’s captions are overwritten, but he demonstrates a great grasp of Cyborg’s voice. The artwork by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Adriano Lucas is fantastic and brings Victor to life in a nuanced manner. Cyborg #1 is a good debut, only time will tell if the series lives up to the promise here.